"Those who live in the hearts of others never die."
Lois Holmes Stokes, our mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, was probably the kindest person any of us will ever know. Even in her later years, as she struggled with increasing frailty, pain, and memory loss, she remained unfailingly pleasant to everyone. Her smiles and “Thank you, honey,” were legendary—including in the hospice residence where she spent her final days.
Part of her kindness took the form of feeding others. All her adult life Loie was renowned for her brownies, which she made frequently and distributed to grateful friends, co-workers, and family. She took casseroles to sick friends, baked cookies for ten years of meetings of the Mahopac Board of Education as well as for many committee meetings and other occasions, and created delicious meals for family and friends.
In her later years Loie also brightened everybody’s days visually, wearing colorful, carefully coordinated outfits, from earrings to shoes.
Loie was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, and later moved with her family to Illinois. As a young woman, she rode horses, skated, skied, played tennis and the piano, went dancing with friends, and drove her little roadster with great pleasure. Later, at the University of Vermont, she and her friends would climb up a mountain carrying their wooden skis and a picnic lunch, eat lunch on top, strap their skis to their leather lace-up boots, and ski down the mountain.
Loie married Charles W. Stokes on August 20, 1938, and moved with him to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where their son Mark was born on May 5, 1940. Four daughters followed: Susan in 1941, Shari in 1945, Stephanie in 1951, and Shelley in 1954. In a great tragedy Stephi drowned in a pond when she was 18 months old, bringing a lasting undercurrent of sadness into Loie’s life.
Loie and Charlie always had gardens, beginning with a Victory Garden in World War II. While Charlie was mainly in charge of the vegetable garden, Loie was the grower of flowers, which she arranged beautifully and often entered in flower shows. She also canned, froze, or made jelly from all of the extra food Charlie produced.
Loie was always active in her community. While she and Charlie lived in Mahopac, NY, they worked to establish a town library, and Loie became president of the Mahopac Garden Club. She took courses at night school and learned to make furniture, jewelry, and silverware.
When Charlie became a professor at SUNY New Paltz, Loie joined the Faculty Wives, a group that provided assistance to the many foreign students who attended New Paltz. Loie served twice as president of the Faculty Wives and twice as Chair of the Foreign Students Committee. She and Charlie became especially close to Shamie Wachuchu-King, who came from Sierra Leone and now lives in England, and to Luo Li, originally from China and now living in Connecticut.
In New Paltz Loie also joined the New Paltz Garden Club and was active in the Dutch Reformed Church. She chaired the town’s Beautification Commission for 6 years, during which time the group planted so many trees, New Paltz was designated a Tree City by the organization Tree City USA. Loie also volunteered for many years for Reach to Recovery, an organization that helps women who have had mastectomies, and for that work she was given an award as the NY State Cancer Volunteer of the Year in her 70’s. And she continued to bake for everybody!
Charlie and Loie traveled to many parts of the world, sometimes with family, sometimes just as a couple. During one of their trips to Ireland when Mark and Celia were living there, Loie fell in love with the sound of the Irish harp, so Charlie purchased one for her. Over the next few years she taught herself to play it and then took lessons so she could play a full-sized concert harp, pedals and all—which she did beautifully.
Loie was especially fond of all her grandchildren, interested in their activities, and happy to have them visit her or to go visit them where they lived. When the great-grandchildren began arriving, Loie delighted in each of them as well. Three additional tragedies struck Charlie and Loie’s family in their later years: two of their beloved grandsons, Gregory Stokes and later Gavin Stokes, each died, as did Shari’s husband, Jack Alling.
After Charlie died in 1997, Loie stayed in New Paltz for another three years and then moved to Brookhaven in Lexington, Massachusetts. In 2011 she moved to New Horizons in Marlboro to be closer to Shelley and to receive care that better fit her needs.
Our lovely, talented, gracious mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother gave us all unconditional love. She will live in our hearts forever.
Lois Holmes Stokes was predeceased by her sister Sheridan Marie Cavallaro and is survived by her sister, Betsy Lue Summers of Coopeville, WA; four children: Mark Stokes of San Antonio, TX, Susan Ellis of Westport, CT, Shari Stokes of Chelmsford, MA, and Shelley Stokes of Marlboro, MA; seven grandchildren: Harold Ellis of New Haven, CT, Chad Ellis of Brookline, MA, Derek Stokes of San Antonio, TX, Emma Stokes Alling of Los Angeles, CA, Jesse Stokes Alling of Chelsea, MA, and Justin and Nathaniel Turnbow of Marlboro, MA; and nine great-grandchildren: Samantha and William Stokes of San Diego, CA, Cameron, Aiden, and Avery Stokes of San Antonio, TX, Jade and Morgan Blais-Ellis of Brookline, MA, and Raymond and Charles Ellis of New Haven, CT.
A private family ceremony will be held to celebrate Loie’s life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider contributing to any of the following, all of which were dear to her:
Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts
91 Main Street, #103
Marlborough, MA 01752
The Greg Stokes Memorial Scholarship
Box 11203 ASU Station
San Angelo, TX 67909
Greg died in 1995 while attending Angelo State University, where he was an academic and football All American. This fund provides a yearly scholarship that is awarded to the student who best exemplifies Greg’s success in both academics and sports.
The Jack Alling Smart Classroom
C/o The Development Office
Fitchburg State University
120 Pearl Street
Fitchburg, MA 01420
This fund provides a classroom filled with cutting edge technology for undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation. The Jack Alling Smart Classroom was created to recognize Jack’s magnanimous spirit, his talents in technology, and his never-failing support for Shari’s passion for teaching.
Reach to Recovery
Hudson Valley Surgical Associates
751 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534